Rati is the Hindu goddess of love, carnal desire, lust, passion and sexual pleasure. Usually described as the daughter of Prajapati Daksha, Rati is the female counterpart, the chief consort and the assistant of Kama (Kamadeva), the god of love. A constant companion of Kama, she is often depicted with him in legend and temple sculpture. She also enjoys worship along with Kama. Rati is often associated with the arousal and delight of sexual activity, and many sex techniques and positions derive their Sanskrit names from hers.
The Hindu scriptures stress her beauty and sensuality. They depict her as a maiden who has the power to enchant the god of love. When the god Shiva burnt her husband to ashes, it was she, whose beseeching or penance, leads to the promise of Kama’s resurrection. Often, this resurrection occurs when Kama is reborn as Pradyumna, the son of Krishna. Rati – under the name of Mayavati – plays a critical role in the upbringing of Pradyumna, who is separated from his parents at birth. She acts as his nanny, as well as his lover, and tells him the way to return to his parents by slaying the demon-king, who is destined to die at his hands. Later, Kama-Pradyumna accepts Mayavati as his wife.
The name of the goddess Rati comes from the Sanskrit root ram, meaning “enjoy” or “delight in.” Although the verb root generally refers to any sort of enjoyment, it usually carries connotations of physical and sensual enjoyment. Etymologically, the word rati refers to anything that can be enjoyed; but, it is almost always used to refer to sexual love.